Space junk WT1190F hits Earth today, Friday the 13th; Sri Lanka bans fishing, flight over impact area

By @vitthernandez on
Indian Ocean
Tourist boats, carrying whale watchers, surround a pod of resting sperm whales while a container ship sails in the background in the Indian ocean off the coast of southern Sri Lanka, near the town of Mirissa March 29, 2013. The southern tip of Sri Lanka, where the deep waters of the continental shelf is close to the shore, is one of the few locations in the world to see dolphins, whales and other creatures of the deep . Since the end of the 25 years civil war in 2009, tourists are returning to the island to enjoy its natural beauty and catch a rare glimpse of the elusive whales. Picture taken March 29, 2013. Reuters/David Loh

Finally, it is third and last Friday the 13th in 2015, the first two having occurred in February and March. On this day associated with superstition and bad luck, scientists are monitoring the skies since the space junk WT1190F enters Earth’s atmosphere today.

Since it was first detected by scientists at the Catalina Sky Survey Programme at the University of Arizona, the space debris – believed to be a remnant of an earlier Apollo mission – was tracked. Experts computed its trajectory and referred to observations made in 2012 and 2013 from telescope archives, according to independent astronomy software developer Bill Gray.

Based on their computations, they determined it would crash into the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Sri Lanka. On Thursday, the Sri Lankan government placed a fishing ban on the southern sea area of the Indian Ocean and ordered a No-Fly-Zone over its sky to avert any damage to vessels and aircraft and injury to fishermen and sea and air travelers when the debris, estimated to measure seven feet, crashes

The ban, made by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Development, covers Thursday and Friday only. However, the no-fly-zone order made by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka applies only on Friday, reports Colombopage.

Since the estimated time the debris would hit the Indian Ocean is at around 11:48 a.m., local time, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies declared the ocean’s south coast a risky zone from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday.

When it was confirmed in late October that the space junk would fall today, after it traveled a very elliptical orbit and swung two times as far as the distance between the moon and Earth, the news spawned Doomsday forecasts because of the superstition involving the date Friday the 13th.

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